Habits are a common topic among self help gurus and its understandable, we all have a bunch of shit we don’t want to do. Workout regularly, go to sleep on time, read, eat well, you get it, the boring stuff. Over the years I’ve developed a couple strategies for building habits.
Set a Minimum
You need to set a bare minimum for whatever activity you’re doing and it needs to be stupid simple. And when I say simple, I mean ridiculous. If you are building a habit to workout regularly a perfect minimum is 5 push ups. If you need to clean the dishes every day at 8 o’clock, do one spoon.
I’ve been hearing similar advice for most of my life, something along the lines of “just spend 15 minutes a day and you’ll be much better off”. My advice is not that, even if it might look similar. My advice is to make it as simple as possible to get started to avoid the dread of doing the thing and setting a minimum is a easy way of doing that.
Tie it Down
Habits are easier when you’ve already built them. Most people already have a set of habits that they follow every day, habits like brushing teeth before bed or showering before work. These common habits are easy to maintain because they are activities that come as a pair and that are executed in a very specific order. This is a such a common paradigm of habit that building one artificially can be quite useful. This is what I mean my “tie it down”, take the habit you want to start doing and associate it with other activities that you do on a regular basis and enforce an specific order. This strategy is a little harder because you need to trick into enforcing the order which can be made simpler if you tie your habit to the right activity. A good example is tieing a workout to your daily shower. It makes sense to workout before you shower because you won’t be sweaty for the rest of the day after you workout and this makes it very easy to enforce a strict order to you tied down habit.
- Do the very minimum just to check it off your list.
- Integrate it with your existing routines.